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RPE Weight on later sets

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  • RPE Weight on later sets

    Hello everyone,

    first of all, I would like to thank the Barbell Medicine team for the content that You are providing. After a few years in the gym working primarily on 5/3/1 or 5x5 based programs, I've started The Bridge.
    Although I am just finishing week 4, my numbers are growing significantly and I look forward to getting to the 500 kg total in the main lifts by the end of the program - a personal milestone that I've never thought that I'll be able to achieve. Thank You for this awesome program.

    My question is about the weight on the multiple sets with the same RPE. Let say I got to do 4 reps @ 8 for 3 sets. I was always shooting to get on the certain RPE for the first set, and then maintain the weight for the second and third set. Recently I've got to see the online spreadsheet for The Bridge and it was automatically decreasing the weight on the bar for the following sets.

    Should I aim to maintain the weight or decrease it on purpose? On the better days, I can maintain a certain RPE through all the sets, but on the weaker ones RPE jumps, but it's hard to judge until I will go under the bar so I usually stick to the primary weight.

    More of the theoretical question I guess because the program is obviously working well for me. Thank You!

  • #2
    They've mentioned it a couple of times: RPE 8 sets should be repeatable for a few subsequent sets. If it isn't for you then you're either
    a) not used to the rep/set scheme yet or
    b) overshooting your RPE and it's not a true RPE 8 weight.

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    • #3
      Something else to consider: often I aim to keep the same weight across the sets with the goal to be hitting the last set at the prescribed RPE. So if it’s 3 sets @8, the first set may be @7, then @7.5, then @8 - 8.5.

      This is a strategy I use to save time between sets, where I’m often only waiting 2-3 minutes. It may be ideal to play around with the weights and always hit @8 but for me that tends to increase the margin for error.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Millzners View Post
        Something else to consider: often I aim to keep the same weight across the sets with the goal to be hitting the last set at the prescribed RPE. So if it’s 3 sets @8, the first set may be @7, then @7.5, then @8 - 8.5.

        This is a strategy I use to save time between sets, where I’m often only waiting 2-3 minutes. It may be ideal to play around with the weights and always hit @8 but for me that tends to increase the margin for error.
        In the way you described you are actually reducing the prescribed stress and that is not desired. If you have 3 sets, you should start with a weight that feels like an @8. In the second set try to repeat it. If that feels heavier than an @8 then you should adjust the weight for the third set. If your rest periods are short, then do the first @8 and your next @8 will be lighter, so you will need to adjust the weight for the second set. Also if something is an @8 it is very unprorbable that it turns into an @10 in 3 minutes. Even if it happened, you will not end up in hell. Just drop a good amount of the weight for the third set and go for it. That's all.
        Last edited by masoud.shokri; 05-15-2019, 03:24 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Millzners View Post
          It may be ideal to play around with the weights and always hit @8 but for me that tends to increase the margin for error.
          I don't know what do you mean by an error in this context. You either undershoot a set or overshoot it, that is not a sin. If there is a next set and your overshooted(undershooted) you can decrease(increase) the weight on the bar. In any case, you have trained and learned. That should be rewarded not punished by overthinking about details.

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          • #6
            What you say is true, ideally you should always perform the lift at the prescribed intensity.

            I tend to be conservative on that first back off set @8 knowing that overshooting it tends to require either a reduction in total tonnage by lowering the weight of the subsequent sets by more than the previous set was overshot, or by increasing rest periods. I like to keep the rest periods and load fixed throughout those backoff sets, rather than micromanaging. It’s just another option to consider and not a general recommendation.

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